Somewhat late, but here's Gordon's speech to the National Policy Forum at the weekend. It was followed by a Q and A session with Gordon, Lord M, Yvette and Harriet, which was slightly spoilt by certain trade union barons who seemed to think they had the right to deliver lengthy speeches rather than ask questions. One even came up to the rostrum to deliver his 'question', with pages of prepared notes. There's always a balance to be struck on the NPF between the unions, the constituencies and other sections, and on Saturday it felt like the constituencies were being elbowed out again. The constituencies do, when it comes down to it, have more votes, but sometimes it seems they have less of a voice.
Selected highlights from GB's speech:
"These are momentous times because we are being lashed by an economic hurricane that is not only global in size and scope, but it is being felt on every high street and in every living room in Britain and people rightly look to us for answers. And their questions rightly force us to ask what kind of country we are, what kind of country we want to fight for and we have a choice. Whether we say to people let the recession take its course as, others might, or whether you make the choice that when banks fail and markets falter, the government must step in to provide help for those who need it."
"And we have a choice, whether to say to people as was said in previous downturns, at times of great job loss, unemployment is a price worth paying, or to make the choice that we need the boldest action now to address unemployment and our duty is to everyone who is looking for a job and we must not let them down. And we have a choice, whether to say to people you’re on your own, or to say to people that the role of government in difficult times is to be on your side. Whether you let markets master, or whether we make the choice that insists that markets serve the public."
"....And somehow along the road the financial world lost sight of the fact that those values, so hard-wired into how we make decisions elsewhere, should inform, our economic life too. Some came to believe that we should sacrifice being fair to the altar of laissez-faire. Some acted as if free markets could be value-free markets. But what has become clear is you can’t deregulate or nudge your way to better behaviour. You need fair rules, rules that reward those who play by them and punish those who don’t."
"And if we thought in the past it was beyond our power or our ability to shape these global markets, it’s now urgent that we do so. What we thought was difficult or impossible to be supervised we now have to supervise because a world without rules is a world without values and the world of the race to the bottom is a world where nobody wants to be. So it’s time to set new rules for the banks of all countries. And let us be clear that some of the practices now being discovered in our banks are not only unacceptable, they are indefensible and they have got to be cleaned up now."
His introduction was particular good, IMHO.